tv Politics and Public Policy Today CSPAN December 23, 2016 2:24am-3:01am EST
i think the democrats need to be careful. in they have already lost a great swath of the middle of the country. by not really appealing to people in nebraska, for example. kerry ran for governor, democrats were a handful. now it is 200,000. my sense is that john boehner is not a far right conservative republican. he is a pragmatist. that's my sense. i think some of the candidates, jeb bush, for example, to me, is an -- i really admired his father. is a very appealing candidate. i think if the democrats need to bring themselves back into the center of the voting population like bill clinton did. i think bill clinton was a master at it. >> with congress brad ashford of the second district of nebraska.
we just showed a clip to our viewers of our interview in 2015. you said democrats were losing some of their appeal in the middle of the country and republicans back then had not moved that far to the right. where do you think the parties stand now in 2016? rep. ashford: did i look any younger in the clip? i think the trump phenomenon could not have been predicted in early 2015. i do think the democratic party does need to get back to the center and they need to talk directly to the needs of working people and that means specific, clear messaging that talks about what we as a party stand for regarding work, your children, college education, all of those -- college tuition, all of those issues -- health care, all of those issues that affect families. i think the messaging has to change.
certainly more pragmatic. when i first came into office, the issue was destroying isis. that's where everybody was focused more or less. now that seems to be pivoting a way from that. >> you lose a close election this year. tell us about the things you feel you got done that you're proud of and some of the things left undone. rep. ashford: unquestionably some things for the district, the runway at the air force base, it is a national security issue. developing a center for infectious disease and research and training at the university of nebraska medical center, working on the hospital for v.a. those are localized kind of things with national implications. really as i look back at it, it was my time on the armed services committee, three trips to the middle east. changing the direction of the fight against isis by funding
the military in a more robust manner, doing hits in a nonpartisan way, increasing the air war against isis. those kind of things happened within the last two years. i think those are accomplishments for the entire team. i was part of it and i was proud to be part of it. >> as you leave congress, what's your best guidance for your successor as he comes in? rep. ashford: well, you really is to be independent, i think, being from a small state, especially early in your career, i felt going in that i wanted to look at the issue in front of me, not necessarily the party solution to the problem. and i think that served me well. we have been named the fifth most bipartisan member and i think we have been independent. i think that's what nebraskans want. that is kind of the base level standard for nebraska members. my successor is a good guy.
had great career in the military. i think he would be wise to continue on that tradition. but i'll leave it up to him. >> you talked in our 2015 interview about fundraising. two years goes by in the blink of an eye, i suppose. tell us about how difficult the fundraising aspect of it is. rep. ashford: it takes away dramatically from what should be the focus here. it is not so much the actual fundraising itself but the pressure to fundraise. everything sort of morphs into that. everything political morphs into that whether it is a two-year term. i think it is really the citizens united impact allowing money to flow into elections without any idea where the money is coming from.
my campaign for example, at the end of the day, it wasn't money raised by my opponent that influenced the election. it was the amount of money that came in from outside groups through the leadership pack on the republican side. millions and millions of dollars. well, i could never raise enough money to compete against that. we had groups that came in and supported us too, but i think the lesson from that is we have got to ratchet that down somehow and i know that is a constitutional problem and the court also have to test that again. we have gone way too far on having political money raising as a free speech issue. i don't think it really is the way it has morphed into the way it is now. it takes the candidates out of the game in many respects and gives the ball to these outside groups. >> in terms of the day-to-day operations and your job, as you leave, what would be your suggestion for how to change the process here on capitol hill? rep. ashford: well, you know, it is -- i come from a nonpartisan state. we don't do this.
it is so different. we don't have -- we don't really have a rules committee in the traditional sense in the congress. bills come out of committee and move to the floor. i know that can be done in the congress. it is not done now. i think a much more free flowing processing of legislation is the best way to go. any movement we could get back to the committees having more control over how the debate occurs on the floor without the intervention over the rules committee. i know george norris actually in going back, i hate to do this to you but going back to 1908, led the effort against speaker canon here to -- to restrict the power
of the speaker in deciding what legislation comes to the floor. i think we're kind of at that place again. >> going back to politics for a moment, tell us what it was like to campaign during this very intense presidential campaign. what was it like for you on the local level? rep. ashford: my campaign started the day i got here. my opponent announced that he was going to run and that we needed a change even though i had yet to find my apartment or my office. i'm being flippant, i don't mean to be. i think the campaigning is way over -- takes way too much time and effort away from the process of governing for everybody in the house. how do we do that? i think -- i have a rule, actually joe manchin that is same rule in the senate. that is that you never work against the people you work with. so i would no more work against a republican than the man in the middle. if i'm working with a republican or any republican, i simply would not work against them. i think this idea of republican leadership and democratic leadership, people obviously
supporting their own candidates but in a way, the money raising side and activity side, it really takes the actual member out of the process and it disrupts the relationships that exist between members just because they are people. so we take the human element out of it and we interpose this rather -- i don't know how the -- how to describe it. it is counterintuitive because your intuition is to make friends and develop relationships. this process of campaigning interferes dramatically. i think -- there is no turnover in the house or very little. i'm one of the few turnover people. i come from a significant -- plus four or five republican district. it is always going to be a tough districts for democrats anyway. so i don't see what anybody gains by these kinds of tactics. >> what has been the hardest part about being a member of congress? rep. ashford: i suppose the
hardest part mainly is just the slowness of the process and the not being able to -- i'm used to 16 years in nebraska where big issues where dealt with. never perfectly but the fact that we could not do an infrastructure bill and immigration bill. we need infrastructure reform. or infrastructure focus. we need tax reform. we need to think about how we're going to look at the world globally. those are huge issues that affect jobs today. and we don't do anything about it. it is unbelievable to me. we didn't shut the government down. we accomplished that. >> lastly, what is next for congressman ashford? rep. ashford: i would love to come back some day. i love doing this. i love legislating. that's what i do. so some day maybe the opportunity will arise when i can continue to serve in a
legislative capacity. i just love serving my state and my people and my constituents. it is gratifying. i love it. i love the issues. so someday -- if not, i've always been engaged in public service in omaha, one way or another. there is always going to be -- i'm sure there is something they need me to do when i get back. >> congressman brad ashford, thank you for being with us. rep. ashford: thank you very much. >> this weekend on american history tv on c-span3, saturday afternoon, just before 5:00 talks aboutry lewis the construction of the brooklyn bridge. why manhattan needed the bridge and how tragic rotation changed at the turn of the 20th century. opened,the bridge was the fairies were running at capacity. by the mid-1890's, the city of
oakland -- city of brooklyn had reached one million people. >> at 8:00 on lectures in history. >> that is the interesting thing about country music, it is the music of poor white people. people who were privileged to be white, but also people who are underprivileged in terms of their class identity and economic opportunities. >> kotten siler on the emerging definition of whiteness and blackness in colonial america and how it impacted the origins of country music. sunday afternoon at 4:00 on real america. >> at cautious congress and a tangle of state and administrative albums on horizons created evidence that this crusade against could -- against society's greatest enemies may have slowed or leveled off. the unfinished tasks that faced lyndon johnson on the first of
december, 1966. >> the film documents the final months of the year of resident lyndon b. johnson, his meeting with mexico's president awarding the medal of honor to a marine who fought in vietnam and the celebrating the holidays with his family at his texas ranch. at 8:00 on the presidency, the author of madam president. edith wilson was woodrow wilson's second wife and she buffered access to the president as he recovered from a massive show -- massive stroke in 1919. where our schedule, go to c-span.org. >> senate majority leader mitch mcconnell spoke with bill goodman on a pbs affiliate about the 2016 election and what to expect from the 115th congress and the trump administration. one to one is courtesy of ket.
♪ mr. goodman: welcome to "one-to-one." on this final and special edition, i will sit down with a man who has had a pretty good year. senate majority leader mitch mcconnell is in control of the senate. republicans rule the house and the oval office and the kentucky senate and, for the first time in 91 years, flipped the state house of representatives to a republican majority. happy holidays, senator mcconnell. he is next on "one to one." ♪ mr. goodman: senator, welcome to your 14th appearance on "one to one." undoubtedly a ket record.
senator mcconnell: you were listing all the wonderful things that happened from a republican point of view in 2016. my wife is going to be in the cabinet. secretary of transportation. before we get going, i want to thank you for doing a great job for lo these many years. you handled the debate in my last election. did it flawlessly and objectively. wish you well in your new gig. mr. goodman: thank you, sir. take us back just a few weeks to november 8 and a telephone call you got on the evening of the election from now speaker elect jeff hoover. can you reenact what that call meant to you and what it meant to mr. hoover? senator mcconnell: i was at the national republican senatorial committee building in washington. i thought we had a pretty good
chance of taking the statehouse after all of these years. never thought we would get 64. i thought that was probably the last celebration i was going to have that night, because we found that out around 8:30, 9:00 at night. i honestly thought we would not hold the u.s. senate. i thought we would come up short. and i did not think president trump had a chance and i thought that was my last celebration, 8:30 at night. an exciting development for republicans who feel like we have a better agenda for the future of the state than the one that was constantly killed in the state house of representatives. even though it is not part of my job, i have had a long-standing interest in helping those guys when i could, and i played some role in that. it is indeed a new day in kentucky. and we will see whether a very different kind of agenda can move our state into the future. mr. goodman: is there any way to compare the emotion of holding the u.s. senate and president trump's victory and this statehouse victory now?
on a scale, it would seem like -- senator mcconnell: given my expectations, doubly exciting because i thought we would come up short on the senate. we had a lot of exposure -- 24, and the democrats only had 10. a lot of them were very difficult states for us in presidential years. that was really something. but it never occurred to me that he might be able to win as well. that gives us an opportunity to change the court system and to move the country in a more competitive direction and try to deal with the excessive regulation and other things to get the economy underperforming. it was really exciting. i get more excited when things you don't expect occur. >> he said this was a comeback for rural america.
inthat are a lot of people the white working class people and larger states like michigan and wisconsin, pennsylvania who looked at the democrats and said they are a party of groups. there's this group and the that group. i am not in any of those groups, what about me? they wereeople felt no longer a part of the democratic party's view of what was important in america. areas,look the rural stunning margins of victory. not that republicans would have carried a state like kentucky anyway, but hillary clinton only got 32% of the vote. in west virginia, she only got 27% of the vote. amongwas a lot of feeling
just ordinary people all across the country that the current administration did not care about them. trump was able to convey, oddly enough, a message of a billionaire who lives in manhattan a genuine concern for people who felt left out. they were offended by all of the logical correctness they see around them. and did not feel like this was the america they were accustomed to. all of that came together. i've of the most extreme everything about trump's victory, the pollsters were correct. hillary clinton won the popular vote. what was amazing was he pierced the blue wall that i have not .een
pennsylvania, wisconsin, michigan. you have to go back to 1988, the last time we carried pennsylvania. 1984 almost does not count because reagan was carrying 49 out of 50 states, a landslide. the last time a republican presidential candidate carried wisconsin. he was able to break through and that is why he won a comfortable at twhirl college victory. mr. goodman: it is all most the adage, be careful what you wish for. you have now learned the majority in the kentucky state house area in the president-elect comes in soon. what is the challenge there? you have learned of his gift, what do you do with it? sen. mcconnell: it is no time of for hubris. all majorities are never
permanent. think about how the democrats were feeling, they were already celebrating hillary clinton's victory. you have to perform. i think the country has been underperforming. the way i would characterize it, if you look at the growth rate, not a single year, a 3% growth rate during all the obama years. we need to average around 4% to have the kind of jobs and opportunity for the next generation. another way i put it in speeches, it is like we have had our foot on the brake, when you are foot on the accelerator to get the country going again. how do you do that? the two biggest reason than the market -- the reason the market has been surging lately, the prospect for doing something about massive overregulation and the prospect of genuine tax reform. because now many of our businesses pay the highest taxes in the world which is the principal reason jobs go offshore. we need to perform. the american people are very
demanding and have a right to be demanding. they are never satisfied very long, so it is a big job. to have responsibility and produce results. we intend to do it. mr. goodman: i think you would say the same thing about the jeff hoover who has told the media and told me there are things they want to do but they will not rush into it. and jobs in the senate and house our priorities. sen. mcconnell: yes, it will be easier. they have 64 out of 100 votes in -- 100 votes. in the u.s. senate i have 52 out of 100. most of the things we do require 60. there is not much i can do, republicans only in the u.s. senate. in the statehouse in this state senate with these massive majorities and a republican governor, there are a number of things they can do. even though they have not
announced their agenda, i think we know the major things they can do that will make kentucky appear to be way more business friendly than it currently is. right to work, changing the prevailing wage law, making us eligible for public charter schools. we are one of seven states that do not allow public charter schools. and reform. it is a very litigious state. address those things as rapidly as possible with these super majorities. i think the governor and his old team will be able to say this is a different kentucky from the one you look at a few years ago. we are now competitive with tennessee and indiana and our neighbors. mr. goodman: before we moved to the news of the day, let me ask you this. do the democrats, or to others that do not vote with you in the state and nation, do they have anything to be alarmed about or
afraid of or intimidated by about this majority? sen. mcconnell: no, no more so than we were in 2009 when president obama had 60 democrats and the majority in the house. elections have consequences. the first two years of president obama, there was the stimulus, obamacare and dodd frank. six years later, there are more -- elected republicans at all levels of government, local, state, and federal than i have test then there have been in america in 100 years -- than there have been in america in 100 years. the president himself is a unique political phenomenon. he was able to get himself elected twice. that almost every opportunity the american people have had to react to what he has actually done, they have elected more republicans. i would say toward democratic
friends, these things come and go. the american people decided they were not satisfied with the condition of the country and want to go in a different direction. i do not expect them to support most of what we're trying to do. we didn't support most of what they were trying to do. but there are times to come together. me and joe biden made significant partisan agreements during the first obama term. there will be opportunities for us to do things together. infrastructure, for example, is a possibility. i think they just need to accept the fact that they lost the election. these things do happen. america will be just fine. mr. goodman: on the news of the ,ay, sort this out for me please, sir. the russian hack, the cia, the headlines, the call for a special committee -- where do you see this today? this is today's news.
sen. mcconnell: it does not require a select committee. we have a senate and house intelligence committee run by knowledgeable, responsible people. no question the russians were messing with our election. it is a matter of genuine concern and it needs to be investigated. in the senate we will investigate that in the regular order. we already have a committee established to do this. we do not need a special committee to do what we already have the ability to do. it is a serious matter and it will be investigated. mr. goodman: what rises to the level of a special or select committee? sen. mcconnell: we do not do it very often. just once and a while. the most famous select committee was the watergate committee back in the 1970's. i am sure there have been a couple others.
mr. goodman: benghazi? sen. mcconnell: we did not. the house. i think our intelligence committee, fully capable of handling this. mr. goodman: your hesitation to form or ok a special committee on cyber activity, does it lessen your concern about what russia allegedly or now might have proof of doing? sen. mcconnell: no, it is very concerning, very concerning. i am plenty concerned about it and upset about it and we will get to the bottom of it. mr. goodman: how do you do that? and getting to the bottom of it would result in what? sen. mcconnell: we have in place a committee that is fully staffed and capable of dealing with these things. we want to know exactly what happened.
there is nobody yet to suggest that they actually changed the outcome of the election. but it needs to be looked at. it is not news that the russians are messing around with a elections, they do it in europe all the time. they want to discredit democracy to the major extent possible. if they were trying to elect donald trump, my guess is they made a bad investment. because look at who he is picking for the. general mattis for defense. mike pompeo, intelligence expert, number one in his class at the academy. the head of the cia. if they were trying to elect a particular candidate, they could -- and they are going to find out it did not do them any good.
mr. goodman: part of your good a month and a month and good fall has been the appointment of your wife, secretary chao, coming from labor during the bush years. now the secretary of transportation. if confirmed, i cannot imagine. how does she agreed that news? was it a surprise? sen. mcconnell: this is her original field. how she got to government in the first place, she was a recruit. when elizabeth dole was secretary of transportation, she brought elaine in for a federal commission. elected,bush 41. -- when bush 41 got elaine wasu lane --
the deputy secretary of transportation, the number two job in transportation. eight years later, when bush 43 got elected, she made an effort to get appointed secretary of transportation then. at the time, they decided to give it to the democrat. and she ended up in the labor department, and enjoyed it and spent eight years there. this is her original area of expertise, and i think i am safe in saying she's excited to have an opportunity to be secretary of transportation in this new administration. mr. goodman: what has she told you, not yet on the job, or is she? about her challenge or opportunity in transportation? sen. mcconnell: it will be whatever the president decides it to be. to give you one example, he is talking about doing a big infrastructure bill. if they decide to go in that direction she will be in the middle of that. think of all the innovations in transportation. how about driverless cars? drones? what an interesting time to be
secretary of transportation, with all these transportation innovations that technology is bringing us. mr. goodman: you mentioned some of the other cabinet members. i think all but three have been named to this point as of to date. tellisononcerned about as secretary of state? sen. mcconnell: i know rex well, it was his job, to be exxon ceo. they searched for gas all over the world. the government is not one's we are particularly fond of. i thought he did an excellent job of doing what he was hired by exxon mobil to do. i do not agree with him at all that we should not have posed
sanctions after the russians went into crimea. i have no doubt that rex tillerson will be representing the united states of america. rex will have an opportunity before the senate committee to explain how he sees the new role. my guess is that vladimir putin will be very disappointed with the rex tillerson he gets as secretary of state. a very different job, representing the united states of america, as opposed to one of the country's largest businesses. mr. goodman: another secretary of state, a former secretary of state, henry kissinger said on sunday, in his meeting with president-elect trump, found him to be one who acts by instinct. a different style than we are accustomed to. i think everyone knows that already.
what do you think about that statement? governing by instinct? sen. mcconnell: regardless of how he gets to a decision, i think all of these cabinet selections have been quite good. interestingly enough on rex tillerson, he was supported by condi rice, bob gates, jim baker, former secretary of state. no matter what process he goes through, to get to an outcome, i think the appointments have been quite good. mr. goodman: as you -- as i mentioned earlier, you finish of -- you finished up the year with a few initiatives we know of. we will try to talk about a couple of those, protecting kentucky coal miners, retirees, on health care. tell me how important that is. sen. mcconnell: a big issue, most important kentucky issue at the moment. we were able to get coal miners
health care. this was a result of bankruptcies across coal country. you have a lot of retired coal miners who are losing their health care is very month we're in. i made an effort to get it extended to the end of april and then we will try to go for a permanent fix. because these folks deserve to be protected. their health care deserves to be protected. it is important, it is collateral damage from the decline of the coal industry, much attributable to the policies of barack obama, which i am hoping the new president will reverse. mr. goodman: coal remains a topic in the news. what will you do for these miners that have lost their jobs? are those coal jobs going to come back? sen. mcconnell: we will find out, probably not all of them.
we will find out. everybody i know who is in the coal business, many running companies that are now bankrupt, believe that the over regulatory environment contributed mightily. environmentalists say it is just competition to natural gas. natural gas is more abundantly available. but we have had low natural gas prices at various points in the past. the government itself contributed a lot to this. how much we can get back, i do not know. but we can at least deal inside the government with the regulatory part of it. i'm hoping that the clean power plan directed as existing and new plants will phase out and have a more sane approach at epa.
the new head of the epa originally from lexington, kentucky, has been quite active in suing epa for much of its overreach. i would remind viewers that none of this had anything to do with anything congress passed. this is all executive branch, executive orders or regulations by this administration, targeting the coal industry. we have seen the devastation left behind. mr. goodman: on the 21st century act named for beau biden, the vice president was in the chamber the day you spoke. final passage of that, that is a monumental effort to rid this nation of cancer. sen. mcconnell: not just cancer. this will be remembered at the -- remembered as the most important piece of legislation of the 114th congress. it jumpstart's precision
medicine, something the president is interested in. the cancer moon shot the vice president is interested in. i have a particular interest in regenerative medicine. for example, taking stem cells from one part of your body and putting it into another. there was a fellow from tennessee that we met who was legally blind, managed to get into a clinical trial. they took stem cells from one part of his body -- he is now emailing and driving. the fda was resistant to this. there are fda reforms in their to give these new treatments and opportunity to move faster rather than get bogged down. it is a very significant piece of legislation. i think in many ways, the proudest accomplishment of the 114th congress.